From the Night Factory
4. Phil Spitalny and His All Girl Orchestra
One morning, back in the late 60s, when we were in high school, my friend Richard was sitting at breakfast with his family before catching the bus and his father spontaneously asked, "What ever happened to Phil Spitalny and his All Girl Orchestra?" Richard reported this event to the rest of us and from that moment on it became an inside joke, principally because no one had ever heard of Phil Spitalny and his All Girl Orchestra. It was one of those things when someone might volunteer, "Are there any questions?" and one of us would have responded, "What ever happened to Phil Spitalny and his All Girl Orchestra?" Those in the know would chuckle to themselves while anyone else, particularly the one who asked for questions, would be perplexed.
As a pseudo art major in high school, I drew a cartoon of two Roman senators in the forum with one asking the other, "What ever happened to Phil Spitalny and his All Girl Orchestra?" It hung on the wall and the joke grew to an ever widening circle of friends, but always remained a fairly exclusive clique. It served to bond us.
Before the decade ended, I had discovered Phil Spitalny stilled lived. He was the music critic for the Miami Beach Sun. What I didn't know until this afternoon was that he died, probably in the same year I had discovered he was still alive, 1970. And the Miami Beach Sun newspaper expired the next year.
In 1979 I was working for Sears in Chicago. I was taking information over the phone from a client. She had concluded by asking, "Any questions?" It was automatic, I answered, "What ever happened to Phil Spitalny and his All Girl Orchestra?" She replied, "Funny you should ask; I used to play in his band." I wish I could now remember if she said trumpet or trombone. I thought somewhere in my notebooks I would find a more detailed account of the long conversation that followed, but a search tonight through my notes did not turn up anything.
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